Comparing the Alternatives to Sheet Copper Roofing

If you want to retain a copper look there are currently 3 main alternatives to sheet copper roofing:

  1. Substitute sheet copper for copper shingles
  2. Paint your roof using copper paint
  3. Coat your roof using liquid polymer ("verdi green" copper)

How do these alternatives compare?

Copper Shingles: 

Copper shingle tileMade by fixing copper sheets around asphalt shingles, increasing the lifespan of the asphalt shingle.


  • More affordable than sheet copper
  • Light (compared to slate, etc.) so less structural roofing work

Problems with shingle roofs:

  • Copper shingles are easier to steal than an entire roof! This can increase your roof's theft risk and insurance excess or premium significantly - see copper theft and insurance 
  • Price: Shingles are by far the most expensive alternative to copper roofing. You need to balance this with lifespan as cheap shingles don't last, whilst long-lasting (50yr) shingles use a very expensive thicker gauge copper. On average, you'll pay around the same per m2 as for slate (slate lasts 50-110 yrs depending on the slate: 50y for Chinese, more for Spanish, 110y for Welsh)
  • Lifespan: Though copper can last 150 yrs, shingle roofs last nowhere near that long. Some experts claim shingles must be replaced every 5-8 years, others claim they last 20, 30, or even 50 years: it depends upon the type of shingle used and whether you replace your shingles or allow the copper to 'patinate' naturally.
  • Overpaying: Around a third of a shingle's length is lost in the laying, so you pay for much more copper than you see.
  • Maintenance: Companies selling shingles often claim they require no maintenance. Whilst good regular maintenance will ensure you shouldn't often have to call out roofing contractors often, this is misleading - No maintenance will mean more visits from your roofer, greater expense, and more frequent replacement of the shingles.


'Copper Paint':

Copper Paint Copper AlternativeA roof coating with copper alloy flakes mixed in. Manufacturers say it imparts an authentic copper finish, eventually ageing to the patina green associated with old copper. The paint is often guaranteed leak-free for 10 years.


  • Low cost alternative to copper roofing (around £10/m2, though must be recoated every 10 years)
  • Suitable for DIY
  • Can be applied to a range of surfaces

Problems of copper roof paint:

  • First, if we think something works well, we use it! We don't use liquid copper paint - Our experience of rescuing roofs coated in these products has left us deeply unimpressed
  • After those 10 years, the roof tends to leak a lot - so we get called in to polymer coat the entire roof.
  • Many people find the paint's copper effect unrealistic and a bit 'tacky'
  • The paint doesn't stand up to natural expansion and contraction of the roof over time, leading to cracks and water ingress
  • It's just thick paint, so won't fix splits in the roof (it will only fill pin-holes, as paint does).


Liquid Polymer Copper System

A membraneous polymer based coating that mimics patinated copper and can coat your existing copper or replace damaged or stolen copper roofing.

Main Advantages:

  1. Low cost, no insurance
  2. Covers and fixes splits in the roof, mending degraded or leaking areas
  3. Expands and contracts with your roof
  4. Is guaranteed for up to 25 years, depending on the system you choose
  5. Can be applied to almost any surface or substrate and can form around almost any roof detail
  6. Accurately mimics the patinated copper look
  7. Is theftproof

Problems to consider:

  • Lifespan is less than a copper roof, about 20-30 years. However, there's no splittling or cracking at the end of the roof's life - just chalking and flaking - so no leaks when the time comes to replace.
  • Other than that, we haven't found any.


What now?

Talk to us:

To discuss your roof (copper or not) or to arrange a FREE no obligation on-site assessment, call us on 01970 610047 or email - we can help with most roof-related questions, never chase or hassle you and never pass on your details